Mont Orgueil - History and Facts | History Hit

Mont Orgueil

Gorey, St Martin, Jersey

Mont Orgueil is a medieval castle with an historic role in the defence of Jersey as well as having been a prison and a German base.

Lily Johnson

11 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil, also known as Gorey Castle, has had an important historic role in the defence of Jersey for over 800 years, as well as serving as a German base during their occupation of the Channel Islands.

Mont Orgueil history

Construction of Mont Orgueil can be traced back to around 1204, at around the time that the French King Phillip II Augustus took Normandy from King John of England. Prior to this Jersey and the rest of the Channel Islands had been part of Normandy, but remained loyal to the Crown, immediately becoming of vital strategic importance. Thus, the building of Mont Orgueil was part of a campaign by the English king to defend this territory.

Mont Orgueil would retain its defensive importance for centuries and would be added to over time, creating a series of “wards” or sections each enclosed in the next, protecting a central keep. The remains of these can be seen today. However, the advent of cannons and guns meant that Mont Orgueil lost much of its significance as a stronghold and, despite refortification in the 16th century, it would never really regain its military might. Indeed, at one point, it was only the intervention of Sir Walter Raleigh that prevented the demolition of Mont Orgueil.

A later use of the castle was as a prison, a role which it continued to play until the 17th century. Having acted as an observation post in the First World War, during World War Two Mont Orgueil took on yet another guise as a German military base, at the time when the Channel Islands were captured by the Germans.

Mont Orgueil today

Mont Orgueil is now open to the public with a museum and plenty of information on its history and that of the island. The remains of the defensive wards may still be viewed today, as well as look-out posts built during the German occupation and a host of other fascinating features.

Stunning views are also afforded visitors from atop the castle. In a beautiful setting located on the eastern end of Jersey above a charming village, the tides are high here and when they come in all the boats in the harbour are stranded and lie sideways! It is possible to rent a bicycle for an easy ride around the area, adding to a pleasant day exploring Jersey’s intriging history.

Getting to Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil is located in St Martin in Jersey, and can be reached via the A3 and B28 roads. Bus routes 1, 1b, 1g and 2 also all stop at Gorey Pier, a 1-minute walk away